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Alcohol Risks Peak in First Trimester of Pregnancy

Researchers identify the biggest danger time, but confirm that drinking when pregnant should be avoided entirely.

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Pregnant drinking is a bad idea.
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By Valerie Tejeda

01/17/12

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Health professionals never stop warning about the risks of alcohol during pregnancy. But a new study shows it's particularly dangerous during the second half of the first trimester. According to the research, for each drink consumed during pregnancy per day, a baby is 25% more likely to have birth defects and health problems. All 992 participants recruited for the study had previously called a California telephone line to get answers about alcohol use during pregnancy. After all their infants were screened, the results showed that higher alcohol ingestion during pregnancy was linked to higher chances of the physical characteristics of fetal alcohol syndrome: abnormal head size, altered shape of the eyes and lips and neurological problems. "The take-home message is that there's not a low threshold level below which drinking alcohol doesn’t raise the risk,” says study author Dr. Christina Chambers of the University of California, San Diego. "This supports the surgeon general's recommendation that drinking be avoided entirely."

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